IP ISSUES IN SOCIAL MEDIA Divya Raman Corporate Department Altacit Global Email: email@example.com Website: www.altacit.com
Social Media• Use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.• Media for social interaction, as a superset beyond social communication.• Eg: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube etc.
Impact of social media•Anti-government protesters in Tunisiaand Egypt used Twitter, Facebook andother platforms to run rings aroundattempts at censorship and organizedemonstrations that ousted presidentsZine El Abidine Ben Ali and HosniMubarak.
Impact of social media (contd…)• US has also seen seen some modest signs of social media-organized protest, with hundreds of protesters occupying Wall Street in anger at perceived excesses by its banks.
IP Issues in Social MediaSocial networking sites present severalrisks, including trademark infringementand copyright violation issues. Forexample, a companys valuable trademarkscould appear without authorization on ausers profile page or as part of a username ("name squatting") on a socialnetworking site.
Copyright•Some social media websites claim copyrightover all items posted on its website.•While others recognize that the copyrightremains with the owner.•File sharing is one of the aspect ininfringement of copyright through socialwebsite. Eg: sharing video clips ofmovies, music, books being shared. All thishas posed copyright infringement throughsocial media.
Trademark•Trademark can potentially be used toprotect competitors from selling goods orservices with confusingly similar marks.•Scrabulous: Developed by two commercegraduates in India – game application infacebook. Features of this game is similar toscrabble owned by Hasbro in Canada – onlydifference is scrabulous is in electronicformat. Founders of scrabulous sued andthey withdrew the game from facebook.
Trade SecretSocial media can put at risk a company’s tradesecrets. Since the sine qua non of a trade secret isthat it is kept secret, the speed and ease in whichinformation can be rapidly (and permanently)distributed with a click of a button in social mediaand internet poses a clear risk for any companyseeking to maintain a trade secret. A simple postingof a company’s secret information can destroy thesecret and leave that information to be available toanyone.
Customer List - Trade SecretConsider, for a second, a company that considersits customer list to be a trade secret and seeks toprotect such information. A salesperson whoidentifies those customers as “friends” onFacebook, or “connections” on LinkedIn, or someother similar status on another social mediawebsite, could destroy the secret nature of such alist. It also can lead to that salesperson, inessence, appropriating that information shouldhe or she leave to go to work for a competitor.
Case LawsOne recently reported high-profile case involved TonyLa Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals baseballteam, whose identity was hijacked on Twitter by animposter. The suit filed in the Superior Court ofCalifornia in San Francisco, which has since beendismissed, claimed that someone created an accountunder La Russas name and posted tweets, giving thefalse impression that the comments came from LaRussa. The suit also said that the comments were"derogatory and demeaning" and thus damaged LaRussas trademark rights.
There also have been reports of corporatesabotage. For example, it was reported thata public relations firm allegedly set up aTwitter account in the name of a rival firm.The firm then allegedly disseminatedmalicious tweets for two months before thecompeting firm realized that its identity hadbeen hijacked.
Protective Measures•Companies can initiate a self-monitoringprogram which include a weekly or monthlyreview of a number of available social mediaweb sites.•Companies may decide to hire an outsideservice provider to monitor for negativecomments and infringements in the socialmedia websites.
ConclusionSocial networking sites can present difficultenforcement and liability issues, but withappropriate preventative measures, consistentmonitoring and carefully designedenforcement priorities and actions, companiescan "confirm" social networking sites and theirusers as friends with few reservations.